Lives Of Our Days

 

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Truth!

If large companies are serious about innovation, they need to pick the right staff to lead the process and then put a fire under them, Pollenizer co-founder Phil Morle says, on the eve of the technology incubator holding its first course for entrepreneurs within companies.

To create new products or profitable business units, employees need to work in environments where there are limits on resources and “the fear of not getting there on time”, he says.

“It’s not going to work if it feels like they’re going to work every day and getting paid,” he adds.

Teams working on a project need a deadline and should work separately to the rest of the organisation for a period.

“They have to be able to configure the business [opportunity] so that it can be sold to your competitor,” Morle says. “That’s what makes the most value.”

The technology start-up incubator hopes to impart this wisdom to executives that participate in its new academy. The first five-week course starts in July and aims to help corporate executives be more entrepreneurial.

Morle says executives have a deep understanding of their businesses and can pull levers to “increase margins and performance” but without a more entrepreneurial approach, large companies risk becoming “irrelevant”.

“They need new products,” he says. “The world is moving so fast, start-ups are appearing all over the place at a rapid rate.

“Pollenizer is getting 50 ideas a week coming in, which are all trying to take a little piece of somebody else’s business. Unless companies are doing the same thing, eventually someone is going to eat their lunch.

“[The alternative scenario is that] 10 small start-ups will come together to form a better experience overall than what the [established companies] are doing. Media companies are greatly feeling this.”

 

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Thanks again to Leanne for sharing this article on collaboration with me this morning.

I especially loved the notion of building around “flows, not stocks”. To me, that dichotomy summarises so much of what is going well/poorly in this digital era.

Flows

  • Startups
  • Silicon Valley
  • People
  • Creative Commons
  • Open Source

Stocks

  • Corporate bureaucracy
  • Wall Street
  • Capital
  • Copyright
  • Proprietary Software

I could go on forever…

 

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Two gold nuggets from Chris Dixon in the past week or so:

The Default State Of A Startup Is Failure

If you are starting a company and wondering why nothing good seems to happen unless you force it to happen, that’s because the world wants to stay the way it is. Customers, partners, and most of all incumbents don’t want to think hard, try new things, or change in any way. The world is lazy and just wants to keep doing what it’s doing…

The default state of the world is to stay the way it is, which means the default state of a startup is failure.

And:

The Experience Economy

Today, people increasingly realize they own more than enough stuff, and don’t want to pay for feature-rich versions of that stuff. Four blades in your razors are enough. In the language of Clay Christensen’s disruptive innovation framework, the product economy overshot the mass market’s needs.

An economy of experiences is emerging in its place. Experiences make people happier than products (a fact that scientific studies support). The popularity of experiences like music concerts has skyrocketed compared to corresponding products like music recordings. Apple, the most valuable company in the world, maniacally focuses on product experiences, down to minute details like the experience of unboxing an iPhone. Customers want to know where their food and clothes come from, so they can understand the experiences surrounding them. The emphasis on experiences also helps explain other large trends like the migration to cities. Cities have always offered the trade-off of fewer goods and less space in exchange for better experiences.

The trend toward experiences is important for technology startups. The era of competing over technical specifications is over. Users want better experiences from devices, applications, websites, and the offline services they enable. It is no coincidence that interaction design is replacing technical prowess as the primary competency at startups. People who create great experiences will be the most valuable to startups, and startups that create great experiences will be the most valuable to users.

 

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“But here’s the truth: most companies can’t innovate because everyone is paid to maintain the status quo.
This is the single biggest reason companies fail to do anything new or exciting. You and everyone else are maxed out making sure your company is doing what it’s supposed to do; innovation is what the weekends are for.

I endorse this statement. Every little thing about it, in fact.

If your employees are stretched to the point that they never get to be creative or dabble outside their typical day-to-day, you risk not only losing a valuable player, but also falling behind in business.

Stop Blabbing About Innovation And Start Actually Doing It

(via dwellman)

 

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Given that I’ve been so quiet of late, I wanted to share three of the best articles that I’ve read recently.

First, a great piece on the team at Discovr and making apps people want:

People ask me how a marine biologist and musician can end up developing apps. For me, there’s not much difference between being a scientist or a musician or making apps. If you’re passionate about something, you can learn whatever you need to do quickly then use patterns and processes to put it into action.

What Stu and I have in common is we’re trying to make great products. We have strong opinions and generally are very aligned and know where we need to get to. It is more a discussion of how we get there. I think a big part of the relationship is the different way we think about things – the strategies and approaches. That combination is good…

Next up, Mark Pincus explaining how to fail:

One thing I learned is that while your vision should never change, you should keep trying different strategies until one works. If you can fine-tune your instinct and have confidence in it, then you can keep taking different bites of the apple and keep approaching the problem in different ways until you get it right…

I think failing is the best way to keep you grounded, curious, and humble. Success is dangerous because often you don’t understand why you succeeded. You almost always know why you’ve failed. You have a lot of time to think about it.

And last but definitely not least Apple vs Google - Lessons From Bill Gates Playbook:

Much of Microsoft’s power derived from an inevitability that they established in the market. Anything that they cast their eyes upon would become a commodity, a ubiquitous set of functions that would essentially become free….so long as you bought into the Microsoft bundle.

While Apple has focused on creating and maintaining proprietary differentiation and the high-margin pricing and customer loyalty that it affords, Google has fully embraced commoditization to try and disrupt its competitors’ business models. Apple’s strategy has worked incredibly well for them, owing to the halo effect that they have created for themselves (i.e., entire families become Apple households, standardizing on Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads). By contrast, I’d argue that Google has miscalculated how long it’s going to take for post-PC devices to reach a commoditized state, and the layers of functionality that they will have to seamlessly integrate and iterate to become a viable alternative in the cloud era. If anything, Amazon is better positioned as the Un-Android Android.

All three articles gave me a new perspective on one thing or another. I hope they do the same for you too!

 

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Some great quotes in this article:

Engineers see the world differently. While most of us accept what we see or adapt to our environments, an engineer wonders ‘Why?’ Why are things the way they are? Why can’t we change them? 

And:

Curiosity and creativity are never far apart. You need to be curious to identify problems worth solving, and then come up with new solutions.

And:

Ultimately, we want to help people understand how technology can enhance their lives, letting them spend time doing more important things than reading a manual. To do that, we remind ourselves to constantly ask ‘why’ and keep a few rules of thumb in mind: Focus on one real person, be open, say yes, and have a purpose.

And that was only the first three paragraphs!

 

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“The popular image of the visionary is someone with a clear view of the future, but empirically it may be better to have a blurry one.

From Paul Graham’s piece on Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas

I also liked his description of what is wrong with email:

Email was not designed to be used the way we use it now. Email is not a messaging protocol. It’s a todo list. Or rather, my inbox is a todo list, and email is the way things get onto it. But it is a disastrously bad todo list.

 

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When I stumbled across Matt Barrie’s piece on ideas worth pursuing in tonight’s reading, I couldn’t help but think of this afternoon’s meeting with Diesel, Jay and MM.

Who knows where it will end up but, based on Matt’s three-stage test, methinks Barkles is well on the way to being an idea worth pursuing:

1. Scalable: Tick

2. Disruptive: Tick

3. Now… Time to talk to potential customers :)

I especially loved this little quote towards the end of the article:

Look for pain killers, not vitamins. We’d all like to take vitamins, but if we’ve got pain – we’ll pay a lot for a pain killer right now.

Best of luck guys!

 

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“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

Taken from Bryce Dot VC’s awesome piece on The Problem With “Innovation”, which was inspired by this gem of a quote:

Startups don’t compete with airlines by purchasing a bunch of planes, hiring a bunch of pilots and locking up a bunch of terminals at airports. Startups compete with airlines by inventing videoconferencing.

 

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Thanks to some awesome work by rockstar hacker Jay Whiting, we’ve now got a new project live - http://www.just1link.com/.

The premise is simple: If you could share just one link all week, what would it be?

Tell us what was the most thought-provoking article, the most interesting concept, the piece from which you learned the most… If your week could only be defined by one link, then we want to know what that link is.

One of the awesome things about the internet is that it lets us all share a million and one things, but sometimes there is value in scarcity.

We’d love to hear what you think of Just 1 Link - the project has literally come together overnight, MVP-style, so any criticism is more that welcome!